Sunday, November 30, 2014

Glorius, Beautiful, Wet RAIN!!!

I woke up yesterday to the sound of huge raindrops hitting the now repaired gutter next to my bedroom window!!  The best part is there was no clanking from the downspout, as usual.  It's nice and cool, but not cold, and the air is clean and crisp!!  Sounds like a GREAT day to drive to Sonora and pick up my batik quilt.  Although it was supposed to take 10 weeks (I think it has only been four), they called to say it was ready for pick-up.
My plan was to drop off some of that pumpkin butter we made at a friends house, have lunch on top of a hill somewhere (leftover turkey sandwich .. yum!!), then pick up the quilt.  I knew the traffic would be bad, as it always is going this direction on a Saturday.  It was made even worse by the snow coming down in the Sierras, calling all skiers from across the state.  No matter ... I'm just going for a nice drive!!  It poured!!!  Then poured some more.  My wipers were having a hard time keeping up, but that's okay ... we need it!!
The rain makes for some fantastic pictures!!  I saw them all the way up into the hills, except my camera was sitting on the table at home.  Not wanting to incur any road rage because I slowed down to look or pull over in a driveway, I just kept going, getting a couple of images on the fly.
It was about that time that I remembered the pumpkin butter ... sitting nicely in the fridge AT HOME!!!  You can't imagine the spew of words that came from my mouth!!  This is almost a two hour drive from home!!  Sorry friends ... you'll have to wait until next year!!  DARN IT!!!  I hate it when I do that!!

The hilltop lunch didn't work out either, so I ate my smoked turkey cranberry mayo on a Kings Hawaiian roll slider in the quilt store parking lot.  What a mess!!  I had cranberry sauce and mayo falling all over the steering wheel and my lap, with not a napkin or towel in sight!!  It sure did taste good though!!

Amazingly, the quilt store wasn't busy at all, as I wandered around picking up a few more fat quarters and one new pattern.  With thread 25% off, I snagged a few spools, before checking on the quilt.  It was gorgeous!!  You can see some of the machine quilting here.  I could NEVER do anything THIS pretty!!  They stitched the edges and trimmed the batting perfectly!!  Maybe in the end it was worth the $100 to have it done, but that makes this quilt pretty expensive.  If anyone ever gives you a quilt with stitching like this, know that it cost them a small fortune!!!  From now on, I think I'll stick to the lap size!!  By the way, they DO sell quilting machines here ... which I looked into ... almost had a heart attack and quickly dismissed!!
A very nice surprise as I checked out however, made the quilt price easier to swallow!  I got 25% off the entire ticket price, including the already-on-sale items.  When I got home, the kids were pretty tired from napping all day, so we just snuggled on the couch!!  Monday I'll get to work stitching binding on the quilt ... the final step!!  THIS one's going on my bed in the rig!!
I'm feeling bad that I didn't deliver the goods, so today I'm driving BACK with camera in hand ... assuming I don't leave it on the counter!!  I haven't been on a picture-taking foray in awhile and the butter MUST be delivered!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Black Friday ... Bah Humbug????

Everyone I know, stays home on Black Friday, including myself.  If you do so because you hate the crowds, I'm with ya on that.  If you do so to protest businesses giving their employees the day off, I'm afraid you will have no affect whatsoever on the holiday calendar of the big boys.  That being said, I NEVER go out the day after Thanksgiving, except for 50 years ago when Miss Patty Chance and I would hit the huge Craft Show in the mountains, picking up ideas for Christmas presents.  I hate the crowds just as much as the next guy.  Yesterday was an exception and a foray into the world of 70-90% off.

The morning sunrise was spectacular enough ... nice way to start the day.  I figured I should take the biggest tranquilizer I could find, but alas all my bottles were empty.  All I need is a couple pieces of fabric .....
There's a new Joanns Craft store that just opened a few miles north.  I waited until noon to leave, spending the morning washing windows.  The decision of washing MORE windows or braving the crowds shopping, was an easy one.  Surprisingly there was little highway traffic.  Immediately in the store, I scored several tin cans for gift giving, if I can ever find a good cookie recipe.  This one was beautiful!!  I never seem to find these, as they are all snapped up on Black Friday.  At $3 a can, this was a nice find.
I picked up a couple of fat quarters (for the men, these are small pieces of fabric that usually sell for $3.50) for a measly 99 cents each.  Hmmmmm maybe I could use a few more of these!!  The fabric I use to back the quilts has run as high as $14.00 a yard, amounting to a whopping $70 ... more than the cost of the FRONT of the quilt!!  I found some pretty nice colors for two small quilts, coming in at $2.50 a yard.  I DID have to work around the lady and her husband ... you know the ones ... they stand right in the middle of the aisle with a shopping cart and refuse to move even an inch!!  No matter, I'm pretty happy by now!!

As I moseyed through the drapery material, I found this nice example of old-western-hotel drapes.  EXACTLY what I've spent the last couple months looking for!!  It's 50% off.  Commercial drapes have come in at $2000.  If I make them, this material will cost $400 ... but with 50% off, $200.  That's a pretty nice deal.  The best part of ALL ... I'm hanging them on rings.  If you turn this material upside down and hang it from the hem, it looks a totally different color.  One light, one dark.  That's TWO sets of drapes for the price of one.  This Black Friday shopping is looking better than ever!!
On my way up to the check stand, I see a sign that says "Text FUN to this number, get a discount coupon and receive 5 text messages" at which time you can text back STOP.  Well lets just see what kind of discount coupon they have!!  Immediately a 20 digit number comes back, which takes the cashier 4 times to enter correctly.  I was shocked to say the least ... I got ANOTHER 25% off of EVERYTHING I purchased.  That means I only paid $150 for the drapery material.  Bah Humbug just went out the door.  Now I see why people get hooked on this Black Friday shopping!!

I have to admit it was difficult finding a parking place, and I almost got in a fight with a lady who gave me a VERY nasty look when she thought my truck was going to hit her precious 25 year old Toyota.   One more quick stop at Ulta (makeup central) and I'd be heading home a happy camper.

The place was packed and the checkout line was literally out the door.  I just need a couple of things .... but I should have turned around and left.  It was hard to maneuver around the women standing in the aisles trying on absolutely everything they could get their hands on.  Most of the samples were gone ... I can't believe people steal these.  They have had everybody's finger in the pot testing the colors, and now you want to put this on your face??  Yikes ... or YUCK!!!  At the end of the first row I slipped on a french fry on the floor and it wasn't long before I found part of a hamburger.  OMG people ... don't you know what a TRASH CAN is???  

I found the section I was looking for and reached for the product, only to retract my hand and discover a brilliant red spot on my finger!!  As I tried to figure out where THAT came from, I soon noticed it on my shirt ... and my purse ... and my levis!!!!  What the???????  Some snotty nosed kid ... or teenager ... had taken several of the lipsticks and written all over the front of the display.  Okay, I'm outta here!!!  That did it for me!!  I notified the salesgirl, who apologized and offered up her spritzer of alcohol to remove the mess from my fingers.  It didn't come off.  Hmmmm that's a pretty good advertisement for a lipstick that stays and stays ... but since we couldn't figure out which one it was, I promptly left the store.

All in all, I have to say Black Friday wasn't so black after all.  Certainly it depends on where you decide to shop and if you know just how much they raised the price on that item before giving you half of that back.  I guess I can't "Bah Humbug" Black Friday any more!!  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Gobble Gobble Gobble ....

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!  I think I turned into a turkey with all the food I ate yesterday ... I'm definitely stuffed like one, that's for sure!!  At around 6:00 am my red-shouldered hawk came to visit again, but was a little camera shy.  He usually turns around at the first click of the camera, but today he wasn't having any part in portraits!!  Instead, I captured a couple of pumpkins on my porch before starting the big cooking challenge!!

I think the easiest part of this whole meal was smoking the turkeys (breast only).  You just season them up, stick them in the smoker and set the controls.  I don't even attempt to check on them until the appointed hour, at which time they come out, get wrapped in heavy foil and placed in my small not-working-so-well-right-now oven to keep warm.  The big turkey I was roasting in the big oven went pretty well until I placed it IN the oven, stuffed full of wonderful stuffing.  Well, not actually "wonderful" stuffing ... for the first time EVER the stuffing was terrible!!  Here's the problem ... I purchased an unknown brand of bread crumbs that SAID it had seasoning ... but you guessed it, there was none in the package!  I keep a good supply of all things seasoning, but since I don't do this much cooking any more, they weren't exactly fresh and I didn't have enough.   To make matters even worse, as I turned around to clean the counter, there sat the bowl of homemade cornbread that SHOULD have been in the stuffing!!  In the end, it was too salty to eat ... and I didn't put any salt in it!!!  I told my guests I would bury it with my other disasters ... at least I got a big laugh!!
I mixed up the pumpkin pie ingredients, to which I usually add a little more spice ... but this time, even though I had three bottles, they were so old you couldn't even smell the spices ... so in the trash THOSE went.  
The pie turned out wonderful ... first time I ever made the crust from scratch ... but then anything covered with half a cup of whipped cream would be quite tasty!!
Since I wasn't sure how the pie would turn out and I had the soooo simple ingredients to make chocolate mousse, I whipped up a quick batch.  Chocolate chips and whipped cream ... you can't go wrong with this one, and it was a BIG hit!!
The turkeys came out of the smoker juicy and delicious and luckily the big bird finished cooking at the same time!!  I whipped up some mashed potatoes and rosemary-thyme gravy ... sorry there are no pictures.  I was just trying to get it all done and on the table at the same time!!
Chris and Fletcher brought the best sweet potatoes I've ever had, along with my requested green bean casserole.  Finished off with Kings Hawaiian dinner rolls and a little white wine, we all sat down to stuff ourselves until miserable!!  That took all of fifteen minutes!!
It took almost as long to put all the leftovers away as it did to fix the meal.  By that time, we felt good enough for Fletch to help me take my recliner out of the rig and move it to the house.  I wanted to try my little swivel rocker, but it took up almost as much space.  One of these days I'll find a small chair that will fit perfectly.  That worked up our appetites for pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

While all the food fixing and cleaning was being done, their daughter Syd (my favorite model) played with Cooper and Jessie until they were exhausted.  That kept them both our from under foot, but by the time they went home, Cooper was exhausted.  He spent the rest of the night on my lap while I watched the 49ers lose to Seattle.  
I didn't hear from Miss Jessie Belle all night either, as she was just as tuckered out as the rest of us.  
The perfect end to a perfect day was waking up at 1:00 am with a horrible case of hiccups!!  I drank water, ate sugar, tried to stand on my head and hold my breath to no avail.  I finally stretched out on the floor and reached up as far as I possible could while holding my breath ... exhaling as slowly as possible, hoping and praying they would go away.  That's what I get for overeating!!  


Thursday, November 27, 2014


A very big Happy Thanksgiving to all my RV and blog friends!!  Here's the view from my front porch early this morning in sunny California!!
I hope everyone has a great day with family and friends.  If you hear an exceptionally loud fire alarm going off, it's probably mine.  I'm smoking two turkeys and cooking the usual fixings for my friend Chris and her family.  I'll let you know how THAT goes tomorrow!!  Wish me luck!!!

And just because it's a day to be thankful, say thank you to our military veterans and a prayer of peace for Ferguson ... and California, as I understand the anger fever is spreading like our wildfires!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I Just Don't Understand .....

I've tried to ignore this Ferguson mess,  but it was the talk of Bingo night at the Elks Lodge.  There are many different ethnic groups, that come from just as many different economic levels, attending our little gamboling parties each Tuesday, so I was pretty eager to hear the talk.  I even started a couple of conversations so I could see what the reaction was here in central California.

Not one single person thought the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson was incorrect, wrong or unjust!!  As I listened to the talk, people were saying how they thought it was totally crazy of those people back there to pillage and burn in their own town.  The law is the law ... you do what law enforcement tells you to do or you suffer the consequences.  Course none of us were there and the Grand Jury is the only one who has seen and heard all the evidence.  Most of our players were proud of the Grand Jury for not caving in to the wishes of those rioting, the rest were just glad it wasn't THEM on the jury.

I was not expecting to hear this.  For once, it made me proud to be from California.  On my recent trip to Maine, we passed very near Ferguson, and from what I saw, the Civil War is NOT over, no matter what the history books say.  Even the plaques and monuments lay blame on the "other side" for just about everything.  The Westerfields and I checked out many of the statues, museums and local history, to find the finger pointing and blame still raging in the midwest, so I shouldn't be surprised to see this kind of behavior.  But here's the deal folks ... the law IS the law, and if you're breaking the law or acting in a threatening way toward the people who are charged with enforcing the law ... the outcome is all on you.  You can stop what you are doing and act like a reasonable person, or you suffer the consequences.  To then riot and burn businesses in your town because you don't like the decision your peers made regarding the lawfulness of the consequences, is only hurting yourself, resulting in disgust in the minds of most, as well as lessening the sympathy you might have received otherwise from across the U.S.

I just don't understand their motives behind all this ... and I don't think they do either!!  Will this change the laws?  Will rioting change how they are treated?  Will this get them a big money settlement?  What about all the innocent people they are hurting in the process?  Just what ARE they thinking???

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Amazing Chicken!!!

Chicken rates pretty high in my house!!  I can easily pass up steaks and beef in general.  Why you ask??  Because I was born and raised on a cattle ranch.  That means "what's for dinner" was beef, as well as breakfast and lunch.  Not meaning to be gruesome here, but when a cow dies and you know why, she ends up in the freezer.  Cattle aren't exactly the brightest crayons in the box and occasionally try to jump the fences, which never worked out well for the cow ... or us for that matter, because we had to drop everything to butcher, cut and wrap the meat.  Nothing went to waste in those days, since cattle ranching was on the downhill slide.  That meant we had LOTS of beef for every meal.  Tough steaks, terrible tasting hamburger ... we called it green meat, meaning it was raised on green pasture, not nice sweet corn like nowadays.  The easiest way to cook this green meat was to broil it.  I can't tell you how many times we had broiled meat for dinner, but it was enough to change my adult eating habits forever!!

Thus the chicken (or turkey) is at the top of the list in my book.  Yes we did occasionally have chicken as a special Sunday dinner, but it was also pretty gamey, having just come from the barn.  Probably most people aren't familiar with the Ranch lifestyle, but that's the way it was for me growing up!!  We rarely went to the grocery store ... we went to the freezer .. or the barn.

I've eaten chicken lots of ways, but yesterday was the most amazing chicken I've ever had ... and I'm proud to say I COOKED IT!!  Yup ... I did!!  I'll probably never buy another whole roasted chicken since NOW I can do it myself!!  The only problem that arose was my oven not coming up to temperature.  I have a huge oven that takes 30 minutes to preheat and a smaller one which I use ALL the time.  I'm pretty sure the temperature in the smaller one is why my cookies haven't been coming out as I remember ... so I bought a thermometer to place inside ... not that I would depend on it, but it would give me a good idea of the correctness of the oven.  Turns out it was over 100 degrees off!!!  Well for heaven's sake ... that's not good!!

While I waited for the BIG oven to preheat, I prepared the chicken ... a big beautiful 5 pounder!!  I put a whole lemon (cut in half) inside, along with lots of salt, pepper and thyme.  I also cut an entire head of garlic in half and placed THAT inside before putting more salt, pepper and butter on the outside.  I cut up carrots, celery and onions for the bottom of the pan, doused it with olive oil and more thyme before placing the chicken on top, and baked it at 425 for 90 minutes.  Seems like a lot ... but it was absolutely PERFECT!!  Yay for me ... a baking SUCCESS!!  I was dancing around the kitchen like a little kid!!
To make it even better, the vegetables were sooooo tasty and there were lots of yummy looking drippings in the pan.  Hmmm maybe I'll try to make gravy.  It'd be a shame to dump all of this beautiful stuff in the garbage ... and so I tackled the gravy.  Turned out the best gravy I've ever made!!  It was a good day for cooking in the Nancy household!!  Here's hoping I have a repeat performance on Thursday when company comes for dinner.
 Now to figure out what to do with the remaining four pounds of cooked chicken!!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Way Back When ....

I had to walk 6 miles in the snow to get to school every day!!  Just kidding, I rode the bus for 90 minutes each way instead!!  Seems like a hundred years ago, but Miss Patty Chance and I aren't THAT old yet!  Way back in the dark ages however, when digital cameras didn't even exist, Patty became my good friend as we rode on the back of Harleys around the country.  Yup ... Harley Babes!  You never guessed that, right??  When Patty wasn't working as an ER nurse, we were traipsing off to photograph flowers, driving to Santa Cruz for antiques (where Patty would snip pieces of plants with her nurse scissors from stranger's front yards), or sharing all the vegetables we grew in our gardens, along with a little crafting of wild grape vine wreaths and quilting.  One of the best things we did was make jelly and jam from whatever we could find available.  In those days, I could cook pretty well!!

For the last fourteen years however, I've lost most of those cooking skills from lack of use.  Maybe not LOST them, but they are definitely rusty!!  My friend Chris LOVES pumpkin butter, and since that USED to be right up my alley, I agreed to make some for her.  As I gathered my supplies and utensils, I double checked my old recipe to be sure I had everything in stock.  THAT seems to be my downfall ... not having all of the EXACT ingredients!!  When I substitute things like cream mixed with water for milk, or oreo cookies for "chocolate cookies" is when I get in trouble!!  It brought back a lot of memories as I carefully measured everything into my cooking pot.
I still have everything I used to use in canning ... not sure why I kept it all ... because they are antiques, I guess!!  In the old days, we never gave safety a second thought.  My mom and I canned everything from tomatoes to beef, and I spent many hours in the kitchen timing the salmon and tuna I pressure canned.  Nowadays, they have put out the big scare about salmonella and basically recommend you NOT can anything!!  Pumpkin is at the TOP of the list of no-no's.  Usually, jams and jellies don't have to be pressure cooked like vegetables, as long as the bottles seal.  We used to just store them on the shelf in the pantry.  Now however, everything goes in the refrigerator that isn't pressure-canned.  

At any rate, I stirred and stirred, getting splattered with screaming hot pieces of pumpkin that popped out of the pot.  It's so very thick, it's like lava or those mud pots in Yellowstone National Park.  In fact so thick that I thinned it down with some Apple Juice, keeping my fingers crossed it would turn out okay!!  Finally done, I carefully measured it into the sterile jars, and using an old pair of hemostats (given to me by Miss Patty, I'm sure), set the seals on, placed the top on and twisted them tight.  
Once they cool down, you can hear the lids pop as they seal.  Off to the fridge for storage!!  The entire process took about an hour.  If you're interested in inexpensive Christmas gifts, this is a great one.  Just remember to tell them to keep it in the fridge, whether open or not.  These will receive a cute label you can print yourself, along with a ribbon tied on top.  How easy was that!!!
The good news is that Chris called this morning to say it was Delicious with a capital D!!  Finally ... one more recipe that didn't go in the trash!!!  

P.S.  The peanut butter pie??  The peanut butter mousse was yummy ... the oreo cookie crust so hard I couldn't break it with a fork.  Oh well ..... it was HALF good!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Some RV Maintenance News ...

At the recommendation of a blog reader, I contacted Redlands Truck and RV, not far from my January destination of Indio.  The biggest problem is that it's Christmas and New Year's in between my flower gluing gig and the FMCA WMHA Indio rally.  By the way ... I thought it was all Family Motor Coach Association, but some people call it Western Motor Home Association.  I'm confused!! At any rate, Redlands (the perfect solution) won't be open on the days I can be there.  Scheduling can be a bear!!

In an effort to help me out however, they DID provide a name and phone number of a very reputable person who COULD do the oil changes while we are parked at the fairgrounds in Indio.   At least that's ONE down ... and I can make an appointment with them in Quartzsite for the remainder of the work.  It's all becoming a scheduling nightmare!!  I'm not good at that any more ... the best part about being retired is I don't HAVE to be anywhere!!  After all that hard work trying to schedule repairs, I made this fluffy peanut butter pie just to relax from all the brain work!!
I spent more time on the phone yesterday because one of the "clubs" I signed up for in Maine wasn't honoring my request to quit.  It was a great idea, but I ended up with so many knitting projects, I had to call a halt for awhile.  It's like a wine club, sort of ... sign up, automatic charges, pick up the wine, only here they mail it to me.  I NEVER sign up for these things because I always have trouble getting them to STOP!!  Sure enough, that's what happened.  The payments were processed through Pay Pal, who said I didn't have an account and they weren't paying anyone!!  Even though I gave them the transaction number, they assured me they were not charging my credit card.  You know THAT didn't go over well since I just got an email from them saying they in fact DID charge my card.  Emails to the yarn shop got no response, so I finally called.  The gal was so sweet, I couldn't get mad.  Apparently their Tech Guy has put the wrong email address on their PayPal account, so they never received anything.  She immediately cancelled it with apologies.  Not two minutes later, I got an email from PayPal saying the charges had been cancelled ... on my nonexistent account!!

In other news, as I stepped out my back door this morning, my friends are B A A A C K!! Overnight about 20 turkey buzzards have returned home to Buzzards Roost.  It was fun to sit outside (freezing in the cold wind) and watch them ride the currents.  They are HUGE, swooping up on the winds and almost crashing into each other.
They actually fly in a big circle, always counter-clockwise.  The other little birds around aren't very happy, most of them sitting on my gutters having discussions about how to get rid of the interlopers.  Time to get out my long lens for a few portraits!  This is definitely a sign winter is finally here.
The turkeys are out of the freezer and will spend four days thawing in the fridge.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I can't wait for turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy!!!  In the meantime, my friend Chris will be over today to make our annual supply of Pumpkin Butter.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

It's A Beautiful Thing!!

Not much going on here in Smallville.  My last Elks Lodge Bingo night was an eye opener.  Just when you think you've got those guys trained, you take a little short vacation, only to return to chaos!!  I found they weren't counting the cards being purchased, were giving away free games and not balancing to the tune of $100-200 a night.  Time to get this place ship-shape before I leave again in January!!  Now I'm not saying ALL bingo players try to get an advantage on the game, but it's amazing how many times they "count wrong" or "those packets stick together so bad".  When I find they have stuck extra sheets inside the game books, it's pretty obvious!!  As I cashiered, the new volunteer would whisper to the players that he was told he had to count the cards, as he rolled his eyes.  Sheesh!!!  This isn't give-away-free money night ... well it is, but you know what I mean!!

I've been to the grocery store three times in the last two weeks, which has just about broke the bank.  My freezer is stuffed to the gills with three large turkey breasts for smoking, along with a 14 pounder from the Elks Lodge as a thank you for volunteering.  My counters are covered with boxes of stuffing, cans of pumpkin pie mix and cranberry jelly.  Sunday morning will begin the countdown as the turkeys come out to play in the fridge for three days before getting a relaxing massage with all things sugary-sweet and spicy, before hitting the sauna!!

Yesterday morning I received a phone call ... the kind where you don't recognize the number and don't really want to answer because it's SURE to be a salesman.  I finally answered to hear the voice of the gal from Vintage Market where I purchased that beautiful cabinet.  I made a quick stop a couple of days ago to measure and see if it would fit in the back of my pickup.  My plan was to leave it loaded on the truck but parked in my garage until I could con someone into helping me unload it.  Turns out it was the lady who refinished the piece ... and she wanted to know if she could deliver it last night!!  Well I don't know, I do like the challenge of seeing if it would fit in my truck as I ducked around the rain clouds on the freeway, unable to unload it when I got home .... YES OF COURSE I would like you to deliver it!!!  That's WONDERFUL!!  And so they did!  It was a beautiful thing when placed in it's new home.  I actually had not seen it with the doors on and didn't even know it had lights inside.  It's gorgeous ... I love it!!  Doesn't exactly match the brown walls, but they are paintable!!
I gave them a big cash tip as they left because it wasn't easy at all to get it in the bedroom due to the length and height, even though it is actually two pieces.  It's a good thing I have nine foot tall doors in this house!!  Now to fill it with beautiful fabric, most of which I already have stashed in every corner in the house from the Alaska trip!!  On her way out the door, she mentioned the new FRENCH piece she was replacing it with.  French piece??  Really??  I bet it's a beautiful thing!!!  Maybe I'll just go look ..........

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Not Much Accomplished!!

I spent much of yesterday on the phone.  The repair shop recommendation didn't work out ... they only do repairs, no maintenance.  Tom Westerfield suggested a Speedco about 40 miles away (actually located right next door to the repair shop) which will work out great if I can find the exact oil filter and fuel filters my rig uses.  I went through miles of paperwork to no avail, so will be back online with Tiffin this morning.  Once I have some part numbers, I can begin the treasure hunt to find them in my small town!!  I really wanted to stop at Coach Care in Bakersfield to get several things fixed, but it's too close to Christmas and they will be closed.  I'm pretty sure the number one position on my "must have" list for a new home location will be an RV service center!!

I made a quick trip North to measure the new quilt material china cabinet, hoping I can get it in my truck all at once without making two trips.  That will be another phone call today to discuss what time to pick it up, as the shop owner wasn't available.  I can't wait to get that puppy home!!  Yes I have been looking around the house deciding what I can get rid of if I downsize.  I don't think I'll ever downsize to just the RV, but a smaller house is doable.  My problem stems from the apartment I kept in Monterey for a few years.  When I gave it up, I ended up with a house full of double everything!!  The garage cabinet fiasco was a good excuse to get rid of the last of those boxes.  I do have one hard decision to make ... between the nice small antique dresser and the much larger 70's dresser, better for storage.  I've been trying to give away my old living room couch for two years, but can't find any company willing to come pick it up.  It's in good shape ... but I guess everyone has a couch!!

A quick stop at the fabric store and I now think I have enough small pieces to start work on the Christmas Quilt.  I spent the afternoon making some oatmeal cookies that weren't nearly as tasty as I remember them to be (when did my taste buds lose their taste?), along with a big pot of chicken soup.  It's hard to make a "small" pot of anything, so I'll be having chicken soup for the next week!!  As you can see, my jeans have been talking to me ......
If it stops raining enough today, I'll get back to work on the gutters, cleaning out the two inches of mud in the bottom.  Thankfully there are no trees close to the house, so little trash to dig out.  Next on the list is to change the air filters and I'm done for the winter ... except for wrapping those water pipes, spraying and cleaning out the wasp nests and vacuuming and ....... oh the joys of home ownership!!!!  Trouble is, I love my house and am not quite ready to give it up!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Open ... Open ... Open ...

No ... not the doors on Black Friday ... open my eyes please!!  I'm back to cashiering Bingo on Tuesday nights for my Elks Lodge.  Since I'm out of practice, it takes me a little longer to close out, which meant I got home late late!!  This cowgirl goes to bed early with the chickens.  I don't function very well on 5 hours sleep, which is why I'm late with the blog this morning!!

I got a Fitbit recently ... a little thing you wear on your wrist all day to count your steps.  It will remind you to walk more if you haven't gotten in your mile.  It also records your movements at night when you sleep.  Seems I'm a VERY restless sleeper, even more than I thought.  It's also interesting to see that the restlessness is at almost the exact same time from night to night.  Not sure it will help me get any more sleep, but it is a constant reminder that I need to keep moving!!
It's raining this morning ... yay for California ... and my poor rig is again tiger striped with crud streaming off the roof.  Enough of this ... I'm calling Bob Tiffen!!  After leaving a message, I got a return call about 30 minutes later.  I knew the white stuff coming off the roof and down the sides was oxidation from the sun hitting the white roof coating.  I just can't believe there isn't SOME kind of product that can seal the entire thing and reflect the suns rays.  I mean even my fingernail polish has UV protection in it, although I don't think I can afford THAT many bottles!!  Apparently most people just put a coat of car wax on the roof.  It protects the sealcoat like it would protect your car's paint but must be done every couple of months.  Since I really wasn't happy with that answer, he offered to transfer me to the service department technician that handles the roof sealant problems to see if there wasn't a better solution.  The tech guy was nice enough and agreed it was a continuing problem.  The only solution he found that worked at all was to spray on Aerospace 303 Protectant and wipe it down.  Unfortunately it will have to be done a couple of times a year.  I suppose if it works, that's better than spending hours climbing the ladder to wash off the tiger stripes.  Does anyone else have this problem and maybe another solution??  They clear coat the side of the rig, why can't they clear coat the roof??  Wouldn't that work??
I ordered a bottle from Amazon as I move into the aerospace age.  It's supposed to work on dashes, upholstery, headlights and lots more.  At least the tech was nice enough to warn me to be careful when walking on the roof.  Especially since this protectant will make it extra slippery!!  I'll have the only rig with an ice rink on top!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's B A A A C K!!

Did you see the Leonid meteor shower last night??  No??  Well it's back.  I was up at 4:30 this morning and I sort of, kind of, did see a part of it.  The problem is you need to be away from town where all the lights outshine the stars.  Looking East and south of Leonid??  I've never even heard of it before, let alone know where to look!!  Since I'm on the WEST side of town, I could vaguely see the path of lights across the sky.  I imagine if you were on top of a mountain somewhere, it would be amazing to see!!  You do have another chance tonight, if you want to brave the chilly temperatures after midnight!!

It's a balmy 41 degrees here this morning ... 65 in my house.  Pack your woolies if you visit me, because I'm allergic to high PG&E bills!!!  Every morning by 7:00 the fog rolls in, covering everything, including my newly washed rig, with a nice coat of WET!!  Winter is finally back in California!!!  Now if Nick Russell will just wander this way, we would probably have enough rain to fill our now dry lakes and reservoirs!!  Everywhere he travels, there are downpours, as is happening where he's parked in Florida!!
I spent yesterday morning at the ranch with my realtor friends Kay and Sandy.  My "half" of the ranch only encompasses one house and 5 acres of pasture.  My brother's half consists of one house and all of the outbuildings, including a large barn.  Surrounded by eucalyptus trees, his half is the biggest mess I've ever seen!!  My oh my!!!  There are tree branches down everywhere, along with piles and piles of trash!!  His renter has taken every corner, built some kind of fence and filled it with animals ... from pigs to sheep to horses!!  My renter isn't much better, but at least they only have one large dog kennel and one chicken coop!!  What a mess to clean up ... and of course it's left to me to take care of all this.  Thankfully this is right up Kay and Sandy's alley ... they will come up with several alternatives for the big cleanup, all of which will be VERY costly.  Ugh ... not looking forward to this at all.   Once that's done, we can look at listing it this spring.  At least in the end, I will be out from under the stress of renters and expensive repairs!!  Definitely happy about THAT!!

Thanksgiving is back ... and I will spend the rest of my day making up my dinner menu.  I'm having some friends over who don't know about my backyard burial ground!!  I'll keep it simple ... it's hard to mess up mashed potatoes and my mom's dressing recipe is an easy one!!  I'll also smoke the turkey, so that won't be hard  ...  now just fill in the blanks!!  Maybe I'll have THEM bring the rest of dinner!!      That leaves the rest of my day free ... now which fabric store will I visit???

Monday, November 17, 2014

No Dilly-Dallying Allowed!!

Having played around Saturday in the quilt shop, it was time to get down to business ... no dilly-dallying ... and finish washing the rig!!  When I went outside at 7:30, it was 45 degrees and foggy.  Maybe I'll wait an hour or so until the sun comes out.  By 9:30 there was still no sun, but it was up to 52 degrees, so I went to work.  I figured climbing up and down that ladder would warm me up.  There is one good thing about hand washing ... you get an up close view of problems that are occurring.  It appears the awning track is pulling further away from the side of the rig.  I really need to get this fixed as soon as possible.  I also found a cotter pin sticking out where it shouldn't be, so today I'll open the awning and climb up to see what that's all about!!  She definitely will need a good wax job when I get to Quartzsite ... maybe TWO!!

At any rate, I finished in 3-1/2 hours and she's clean as a whistle.  I'm pretty sure that won't last long, but at least I have pictures to prove it!!  I think I spent an hour on bug guts on the front ... I don't know what those Texas bugs eat, but they were BIG and literally had to be scraped off one by one!!

Of course this morning, I'm a little worse for wear ... it was a three aspirin morning!!
While consoling my achey self with a little English Toffee last night, I tried to keep my fingers from freezing up by cruising the internet.  I don't have a small heater to keep the chill off when traveling in colder areas.  The big unit on my rig works great when you are awake ... but if I want to sleep at night, I leave it off.  It sounds like a jet taking off in the living room.  I can shut two doors, which muffle the sound perfectly ... except no hot air gets into the bedroom, unless I'm ranting about something to the puppies!!  There are several small gas varieties out there, but they require an inside gas connection that I'm not willing to tackle, even though it would definitely be helpful when dry camping.  For the time being, I found this 24"x12"x8" infrared quartz heater at Northern Tools.  I'm hoping this one will fill the bill.  It has two settings, a reasonable low and a screaming high that will only be used when plugged in to electricity.  I'll let you know how it works!!
Now to get the oil and filter changes scheduled ... somewhere ... then it's restocking the fridge and cupboards for the winter trip!!  I'm already getting Road Fever!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Did You Guess Right??

I'm sure EVERYONE guessed right ... I went to the fabric store, of course!!  When I walked in the door, my jaw dropped to the floor.  The number fabric bolts was overwhelming!!  I'll take one yard of everything!!  I spent the first hour just walking around the shop, looking at all the kits.  I must have looked lost, because four of the five sales girls came up to help me.  At this point, I was more interested in this dress than anything else.  It was made by Jane, the youngest person in the store at maybe 20.  She participates in Civil War Reenactments with this and several more dresses she has made.  Since I just came back from Gettysburg, we spent a half hour discussing her hopes of visiting there for the most awesome reenactment in the States.
Although we could have talked for another hour, I didn't want to get her in trouble, and after all, I DID come here to get backing for my just finished shades-of-brown quilt.  That is until THIS caught my eye ... a Christmas quilt.  All around the top of the shop, as with ALL fabric shops, are examples of quilts you can make.  I fell in love with this one.  I can use my Hawaiian quilting skills to work on one panel at a time.  Here's where the story almost ended ... when I asked if they had the kit, the lady said NO ... we did this two years ago.  Then WHY do you still have it hanging on the wall??  If I can't make this because you don't have the fabric, WHY do you dangle it in front of me??  Irritation quickly set in ... I've had this happen at SO many quilt shops!!

As many of you know, I'm pretty stubborn ... and since they still had the pattern, I thought I could find similar fabrics ... the hunt was on!!  Another hour passed ... this was turning out to be harder than I thought.  I found only ONE of the original fabrics, but enough suitable fat quarters for most of the blocks.  The biggest problem was the border.  It makes the piece ... and I wasn't going to accept any substitutes!!  I'll find it somewhere else.  Let's get what I originally came here for ... backing material.  Uh oh ... I was too focused on the Christmas project and couldn't find anything.  Finally, in the "cut" bin, the perfect material jumped out at me.  The good news is if you purchase backing and batting for a quilt on the 15th of the month, you get 25% off ... and guess what day it was!!!  With almost 6 yards, THAT was a real savings!!
When I got home, I hit the internet running.  I was bound and determined to find the border material.  Everywhere I looked it was discontinued ... out of stock ... gone in a puff of smoke!!  I HAVE to find this ... and my stubbornness kicked in again.  FINALLY!!  On an obscure website in southern Texas, from a tiny little store, I found TWO YARDS!!!   SUCCESS!!!  I ordered it instantly ... along with a couple other small pieces of the original fabric for this quilt.  Persistence pays off!!  Isn't the internet wonderful???  I only need two more pieces and I can get to work.  It won't be an easy one, that's for sure, but it will keep me busy for the next six months at least.  If I'm not cranking out lots of easy quilts, the money for backing and quilting will stay in my wallet!!

Okay, play time's over ... time to wash the second half of the rig!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

One Sick Puppy!!!

That's not "one sick puppy" as in a brand new corvette or a screaming eagle painted on the side of your RV ... that's literally one sick puppy dog!!  I don't know about everyone else who has pets that travel with them, but my two are like my family ... more accurately, my children.  When they don't feel well or get downright sick, I'll do just about anything for them!!  Such was the case last night.  Every time I give the puppies their heart worm medicine, poor little Cooper gets sick.  Barbara Westerfield has beaucoup more experience than I do with dogs, having been so involved with SPCA over the years and thought I should cut them in half.  That worked for the six months we traveled together, but last night he was sick again.  Just to show how I will go to any lengths for my babies, I sat outside in the cold with him for over an hour at 2 am while he munched grass.   Not wanting him on the bed with my dry-clean-only comforter, I actually slept on the floor (fitfully) until 4:30 when he felt good enough to roll the ball into my head for the throw-the-ball-game!!  I know ... I'm a sucker ...

Then I tackled the next big pain in my side ... my property tax bill.  If you live in California, look out ... you're going to have a heart attack when you see what the Counties are doing with your values.  I suppose it's a good thing they are raising values after our horrible decline because that means my mortgage is not upside down any more.  The problem is that they are raising it MUCH faster than they lowered it.  My value jumped 27% this year so you can imagine what happened to the bill.  I was the Property Tax Manager for this county for over 10 years, so I know the system ... I just thought I'd see how they would explain this.  Nice guy ... and as you can see, I'm not using bad words.  Here's how it works ... and it's pretty much the exact same across the state.  Properties are coded ... single family small lot, single family 1-2 acre lot, farm property and so on.  If ANY home sells with that code, it will automatically jump the value of all same-coded properties (especially when there has been a decline).  Two houses over 10 miles from me sold for really high prices, resulting in the system upping my valuation (and everyone else's coded the same) by $100,000.  Pretty crazy, right??  Doesn't Prop 13 hold the increase to 2% a year??  Not when there has been a value DROP.  As long as the increase isn't more than what "would" have been 2% over the years it was decreased, they can jump you back up all at once.  And that's what happened here.  My tax bill this year is $1,000 more than last year.  That's a pretty hefty jump all at once, but there's nothing I can do about it except move.  Which is exactly what will happen ...  people won't be able to afford the increase in taxes so they will either sell cheap or walk away from their loans ... and here we go all over again.  The good news is that the County will have a windfall of money that they can squander and throw away on stupid projects instead of giving back the 5% cut in salaries they took the last three years.  Me thinks it's time to get out of Dodge!!  Any suggestions on where I might move???

While I should have spent yesterday washing the second half of the rig, I couldn't ignore the filthy dirty wood floors any more and commenced to skating on my knees for an hour.  It helped get that property tax aggression out.  The only way to really clean these floors is to get lots of rags and hot water and scrub away.  Once clean, I hit it with Bona floor polish and step back to admire my handiwork.  I think that deserves chocolate!!  Really, I was just trying hard to come up with some excuse not to do the ladder exercises again.

A few more hours on the sewing machine and I have another quilt top finished ... or at least almost finished!!  Today I'll take a quick trip to Clovis to check out a new-to-me quilt shop for border and backing material.  At least this is a MANLY quilt instead of the usual flowery stuff.  Ladies this quilt might just get you another trip to the fabric store for husband-approved material.
So ladder exercise and wash the rig .... quilt shop .... ladder exercise and wash the rig ... quilt shop.  I'll let you know who wins tomorrow!!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Gotta LOVE Harbor Freight!!

There were several things on my honey-do list yesterday, so first thing I trotted off to Home Depot for some parts and pieces.  Ladies ... I know Harbor Freight isn't your favorite place to shop, not to mention the smell when you walk in the door, but believe me, you should appreciate that your husband LOVES that place.  I don't have one near me ... so I have to shop Home Depot.  This little stash here ran $72!!!  Yikes!!!  I got two packages of Quake Hold to keep things in place in the rig, the cheapest pair of side cutters they had, along with electrical wiring pliers and a few connectors (in case I rip out my toad wiring again) and a toilet tank lever.  How crazy is that???  At Harbor Freight this probably would have been $20.00!!!
Back home, I am at it again with the home repairs!!!  It's never ending!  I think I mentioned it rained pretty good the other night, causing the loose gutter next to my bedroom window to flop in the breeze.  At least I think that's what is making the noise.  The bracing on the bottom piece came loose, so I scrounged around for one of those little gizzies ... you know, the little white plastic ones that go in the hole in the wall, then you insert a screw?  The hole in the outside plaster was too large and I didn't have a bigger screw.   That little plastic gizzy worked perfectly ... one downspout fixed ... I just don't know for how long.  As I walked around the patio, I noticed that the gutter section on the left was hanging down.  This is the section I just had fixed by a "professional" last year ... the one where they put the edge of the gutter OVER the shingles instead of UNDER!  Sheesh!!!
So I grabbed my trusty ladder and climbed up (#38) to find that the screw had come loose on this one too.  I could see where they had attached the right hand section to the wall in three places.  The left one had only one loose screw.  Okay, this one took me a little longer to fix.  I had to drill through the copper back while holding the gutter up (half full of water and mud) before man-handling (or rather woman-handling) it under the edge of the shingles ... then screw it to the 2 x 4.  It took 4 times up the ladder before I got the right drill bit size and two more times for the right screwdriver.  It's still not exactly even, but it never really was ... and now I can grab a hose and wash out some of the dirt.  This is actually the "before" picture.
The next honey-do was to replace the handle on the toilet.  I just did this about a year ago, but you know how those cheap plastic parts and pieces just break ... well that's what happened here.  THIS time I decided to go for an all metal one.  Amazingly, it was very hard to find ... in fact, Home Depot only had ONE!!!  With their installation instructions, which were only meant for plumbers that do this every day, it took me 45 minutes to figure out how it worked.  I'm happy to announce that it flushed and works fine!!  So ladies ... you too can have the satisfaction of a job well done!!  Personally, I think it's easier to have a handy husband!!
As one of my readers, Jan Mains said yesterday ... a pound of chocolate would probably make my achey muscles feel better.  How did you know???  Not exactly chocolate, but a pound of English Toffee should do the trick.  This easy peasy recipe came from a girl I used to work with.  She knew how much I loved it and would hide pieces in my desk every time she made some.  It was yummy!!!  
As you all can probably guess, I'm about as good at making candy as I am at cooking ... but this one came out really good!!  Shocker, huh??  Once cooked, you pour it on to a cookie sheet, let it cool slightly ...
Then cover it in melted chocolate and nuts!!  It was just what the doctor ordered ... 4 pieces later I was feeling full of energy!!!  Maybe if I eat the entire batch today, I'll have enough energy to wash the second half of the rig!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thirty Seven Times Up .......

and another 37 times down the ladder as I washed the mobile castle!!  I counted!  I know, nobody does that ... but it's kind of boring work and it definitely kept my brain going!!  That got the top and one side done!!  I loaded up on aspirin last night in an attempt to avoid the "oh man I'm sore" moans and groans this morning, but I'm sorry to report it didn't work very well.  With about 10 months worth of dirt and white roof crud dripping down the sides, the three RV brushes I bought for washing, didn't work at all.  They look really great when they demonstrate them on the perfectly flat side of a rig.  However, none were small enough to get in the corners and grooves, so I finally had to grab a washcloth and do it all by hand ... literally!!  Then it was back up the ladder to dry it off, which as it turned out, was just in time for it to get wet again in last night's rain.  Actually, it's still raining as I type, but I just can't complain ... we need the water too much!!  At least she was beautiful for about 6 hours!!
I took this picture so I could ask all the guys out there if my connection was correct.  Since I cashiered bingo last night, I passed it around and finally hit the jackpot!!  Kevin saw the problem right away.  I have the quick disconnect hooked up to the tool side instead of the compressor side.  The extra piece is for use with another tool ... which at this point I don't own.  I spent an hour changing it last night when I got home.  Today I'll crank it up and see if it works.  Mark ... one of the Elks fifth wheel guys ... asked if I knew I had a built in compressor on my rig.  Yes I do ... but that involves finding a heavy 50 foot hose with the correct connection in order to reach to the farthest tire, and I haven't found one yet.  It's on my "list"!!!
Rain, glorious rain ... it's still coming down as I type.  Not only is it a good thing for California, but it will give me at least one day's rest before I have to start climbing to the stars again to finish washing the rig.  I think I'm going to take a couple more aspirin, two peanut butter cookies and a handful of Reeses pieces.  THAT should make me feel better!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Pre Planning Stage!!

I can't believe I've been home almost a month and it's time to start planning the next adventure ALREADY!!  We're not even done with Thanksgiving, let alone Christmas, but if I don't get my act together, I'll be late for a very important date ... in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Parade float preparation activities!!  I'm getting exited about this one for two reasons:  one, I've never done anything like this before and two, I've never been to the Rose Bowl Parade before!!

I spent a couple of hours on the computer this morning checking out the best route to take.  This is an easy one ... straight down I-5 to Glendale, which thankfully is WAY before the mess of Los Angeles that we drove through in April of this year!!  That's definitely a PLUS!!  I checked out the satellite images of the Elks Lodge where I'll be staying ... that way I know which driveway to enter and how to get out.  I learned this summer that it's good to know if there's room to turn around.  Not ONCE did we have to unhook and do the RV dance to get out of a lot thanks to Barbara's satellite map skills!!  I'll be working on Phoenix Decorating Company's Western Asset Management Float called The Power Of Imagination.  Anyone can volunteer to help decorate ... I'll get all the information I can in case anyone wants to help out next year!!  This is not the HOP the Escapees group puts on ... that's something totally different and I hear a pretty expensive proposition.  What I'm doing is a totally private operation, so lets hope I don't get myself into too much trouble!!

Yesterday my new San Francisco Giants Jersey arrived.  Since I have been a season ticket holder, they have won the World Series three times ... and I have a jersey to celebrate each one.  Here's hoping there will be many more!!  Seems we are on a roll!!  When MadBum first started pitching for the Giants, I never thought he had it in him to be the best of the best.  In fact at first, he wasn't very good at all.  Just goes to show you never judge a book by it's cover ... or the first 10 pages!!!
I'm still unloading the rig from my summer trip.  Today is the day to start it up and let the engine heat up, as well as the generator, then I will be able to move forward and open the last slide (I parked too close to the horse trailer) and remove the last of the clothes and all the things I stuffed in the closet.  Some rearranging is in order since it's going to be cooler on this trip and I need at least three blankets!!  Not for me ... for the puppies!!  Once all the laundry is done, I'll start packing her up again.  Then it's food inventory time.  Since we ate out so much this summer, I have lots of canned goods that are going to expire.  Guess it's going to be chili, black beans and corn for me the next few days.  I still need an oil change and a generator service, but found a Cummins Coach Care in Bakersfield where I can stop on my way down to Glendale, if I don't find anything else sooner.  From Glendale, it will be on to Indio for the WMHA Rally, a Golden Spike Rally and finally Quartzsite!!

Here was an interesting find in the garage ... at least for me.  How many people can say they still have the curtains from the bedroom when they were 4 years old??  I have no idea why I kept these after all these years.  I just loved them so much ... they represented adventure!!!  They hung in the top floor of the 100 year old ranch house we lived in 60 years ago.  Made of durable almost canvas-weight cotton, I washed them yesterday and they came out like new.  I'm thinking this will make a GREAT quilt to pass down to someone!!  Weird the things you hang on to.
This morning will be wash-the-rig-day also.  Definitely not a job I'm looking forward to, but someone's got to do it, and as I look around, I'm the only one here!!  Except for the puppies, who make a good audience!!  Let's get to work ... we're burning daylight!!!